Sabbaticals and The Economy: Good Timing

November 28, 2008

It’s easy to think that an economic downturn is the worse possible time for a sabbatical, but it just ain’t so. A slowdown can be a fantastic opportunity to kick your sabbatical dreams into gear. In the New York Times piece, The Gainful Way to Use a Sabbatical, Eilene Zimmerman says:

You may also be able to use the current economic downturn to your advantage. If your company is looking for ways to cut costs, this could be a good time to win approval for some unpaid leave.

(There are some other good sabbatical tips in this one, too.)

This idea is particularly relevant for folks in long-term career positions. After all, quitting your temp job is one thing, but bailing on twenty years of corporate ladder work with a great company is another level of risk altogether. Right now, you’ve got a chance to cut that risk dramatically.

The Opportunity for You

Economic slowdowns means companies end up with excess resources (read: people). Even in this age of job hopping, lack of loyalty, and self-interest, companies really don’t want to lay good people off.

Enter your opportunity: pitch your sabbatical now. You might just be offering the perfect solution to an employer looking to cut costs. You disappear for a while, they hold your job, and maybe even pay you a portion of your salary. You get a much needed career break, and your employer gets to preserve some bottom line. It’s a win-win.

How about these Land Rover employees who were offered a sabbatical at 80% pay? I’d take that deal in a heartbeat:

Leave of up to 3 months is being offered to Birmingham based LandRover workers at 80% pay, plus they can apply for other jobs whilst on leave from manufacturing vehicles such as the Freelander. This announcement must be a blow to workers, having recently been awarded a 5.5% pay rise.

This sabbatical offer is previously unheard of in the industry and is the latest in a series of moves by Jaguar Land Rover to avoid a stockpiling of vehicles.

Or how about Infosys, who appealed to their employees to take sabbaticals?

India’s second-largest information technlogy services provider, Infosys Technologies, has issued letters to its employees stating they could opt for a one-year sabbatical to engage themselves in philanthropic activities. They would continue to draw 50 per cent of their salary during the period.

Now, instead of waiting around to be offered a sabbatical, wouldn’t it be better if you pitched one instead? Here are a few more articles you might use to mine some strategies from:

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